Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the e-Reader Wars

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Amazon.com has been building a huge presence on Google’s Android OS in recent years. You can find an app for the Kindle reader, Amazon.com store, and Amazon mp3 player. There is even an Amazon-based Android market that offers a paid app for free every day. Given Amazon’s large e-reader footprint, and the amount of effort Amazon has put into its Android apps, it was only a matter of time before a tablet was launched. Rumor has it that the tablet will be announced tomorrow under the label Kindle Fire. Everyone is talking about this being the iPad killer. Is it though? Probably not, at least not yet.

For years there has been an ongoing debate about tablets vs e-Readers. I wrote about a few of the competitors a while back in a series called the e-Reader Wars. People were comparing the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader against the iPad, even though they are in completely different markets. Some devices tried to bridge the gap between e-reader and tablet, like the Adam from Notion Ink and the ill-fated Edge from Entourage. The e-reader market continued to thrive, even as more and more tablets emerged. There is a reason for this. e-Ink is a better medium for reading books. Back-lit displays are hard on the eyes, tablets tend to be heavier than e-readers, and sometimes people want a gadget that does just one thing really well. The Kindle was never really in competition with the iPad.

With the launch of the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble crossed over into tablet territory. The Kindle and Sony Reader stayed true to e-Ink, among some other competitors including the Nook touch. When it comes down to it, a 7 inch Kindle Fire is better able to compete with the Nook Color than it is the iPad. It is not necessarily the device though that is causing the stir. Amazon’s Prime membership, Android apps, cloud services, media services, and Android market have positioned it to change the tablet industry. Amazon provides hardware to sell software, and there is a lot of software to choose from with Amazon’s label. This will certainly make things interesting in the near future, but until the 10 inch model comes out, it sounds like the Kindle Fire is geared to enhance the e-reader space over the tablet space.

Is the Kindle Fire going to excite a lot of people? Of course. This should be a pretty cool device, full of Amazon innovation. The rumored low price point will make this a hit in time for the holidays. Is Apple concerned about this new market entrant? Probably, but there is plenty of time for this to considered a threat. Apple will likely have some time to respond. Hopefully Amazon will continue to carry its e-Ink Kindle readers. Though Apple is a tempting target in the tablet industry, there is still plenty of life left in e-Readers. I carry my Sony Reader Daily Edition to work right along my Tablet S. I like what my tablet has to offer, and I like what the Reader has to offer. They are complimentary, or at least not in direct competition. We may soon see if the market agrees. I expect Amazon to sell a lot of tablets in the coming months.

Even though I don’t think this first run of Kindle Fire will be a huge threat to Apple, I am looking forward to seeing what Amazon comes up with. We should know a lot more about the Kindle Fire tomorrow morning. Let’s hope it can live up to the hype. I have a feeling it will.

iPad as Laptop Replacement?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Since it was first announced, speculation about the possibilities of the iPad’s uses has run across a fairly broad spectrum. It immediately was compared to e-Readers like the Kindle, though they are completely different products. Others have gone as far as attempting to replace their laptop with the iPad. I know someone who intends to do just that, so I decided to take up the challenge and see if it could work.

My first thought was that the iPad couldn’t replace a laptop. Steve Jobs said so himself when he announced the product. This is an in-between device. Nevertheless, I was going to see how far I could get with it. The primary argument I was given was the Citrux application which enables access to Enterprise Microsoft applications. Armed with the basic non-3G iPad and several accessories, I started my test.

I’ve been trying to migrate my computing activities to the cloud over the last year or so, which actually made my tests a little easier. I was already used to storing data and even running image editors like Aviary in the cloud. My primary daily activities are checking e-mail and blogging, which are both possible on the iPad.

Any device with a browser can check Gmail, which is what I use for my primary e-mail activities. The iPad was able to view Gmail just fine, so it passed the first hurdle. There are a number of Google apps available on the iPad, which scored it several points. I then moved on to blogging.

I installed the WordPress app and decided to test it two ways: one with a keyboard and one with the native on-screen keyboard. I started with the device alone. A few weeks ago I made my first iPad post. I was able to type, though slowly. I got a post of substantial length done and uploaded it. I had to go back in on my laptop to add a couple of images, but overall it worked. My second test was done with a keyboard docking attachment. This test was considerably easier. I was able to type much faster. I had the same limitation with the images, so I submitted it as a draft and finished it on my laptop.

Just to round out the process I also typed a post with the WordPress for Android app from my Xperia X10. It was much harder to type on a 4″ screen than it was on the iPad, but I had similar results. I made it most of the way through and touched it up from the laptop.

With the primary tests out of the way, I simply used the iPad for a while. I browsed websites, downloaded apps, and spent as much time as I could on the device. I found a lot of Flash sites along the way, clearly limiting my choices.

While I certainly found the device useful, there were plenty of limitations. I was able to do quite a bit with the iPad over the last couple of weeks. I browsed the web, successfully managed my e-mail accounts, posted blog entries, and more. Based on my tests, I think the iPad is certainly a good entertainment device. You can get to the web quickly with the iPad, and it is convenient to pick it up and run a quick Google search without waiting for a laptop to boot. My netbook offers similar speeds though. It also comes with a built-in keyboard and webcam. As fun and convenient as the iPad is, my conclusion is that it cannot replace a laptop for my day-to-day activity. As I mentioned before, it wasn’t meant to.

Have you used the iPad extensively? Have you been able to replace your laptop? Let me know in the comments.

Shopkick and Cheapest iPad Don’t Mix

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Shopkick

I went to Best Buy tonight and figured I would take the opportunity to test out Shopkick while I was there. I took the iPad I am testing out into the store with me and tried to check in. No dice. I was told I needed to connect to the internet. I looked for a Wi-Fi hotspot, figuring that Best Buy would have one. It didn’t. I was in the Best Buy looking like a total nerd holding an iPad that couldn’t connect to the internet. So much for that test. Evidently you need the iPad with 3G if you want to use Shopkick at Best Buy.

Based on the site, you get points simply for walking into a participating store. There was no mention of an active internet connection. Assuming the product works as advertised, I figure it is possible that my local Best Buy is not participating in the program. I’ll have to look into it.

Anyone else have better luck? Let me know in the comments.